RICHLAND — The streetlight at the scene of an Oct. 20 fatal accident in Richland was not working that night, according to police reports.
It is unclear if the broken light contributed to the accident.
Sierra Murray was hit by a car while crossing Thayer Drive at Longfitt Street, near the high school auditorium. She died Friday at Kadlec Regional Medical Center.
The 16-year-old was walking to the school for an evening choral concert. Police have said the teen and the driver, George Templeton of West Richland, apparently did not see each other.
The police report said the streetlight at the intersection where Sierra crossed was not working at the time, said Steve Stairs, Richland's transportation engineer. As soon as he saw the report, Stairs said he put in a work order to fix it.
City workers largely depend on residents to report malfunctioning streetlights, Stairs said. Street sweepers also keep track of broken lights, potholes and other maintenance needs, he said.
Sierra was wearing headphones at the time of the accident and was dressed in dark clothing, Stairs said.
City traffic reports show that no similar accidents have happened on Thayer Drive near the high school since 1996, said Mark Panther, the school district's director of support services.
During their regular weekly meeting Monday, school and city officials discussed how to increase traffic safety for the many students crossing Lee Boulevard and Thayer and Stevens drives, Panther said.
The city will look at the distances between street lights and decided if there is a need for a light at the crosswalk at Long Avenue and Thayer Drive, Panther said.
It would not be safe to build a new crosswalk at the intersection where Sierra was hit because that would encourage children to cross at that spot, which is between the driveways of two busy school parking lots, he said.
It's a common misconception that crosswalks exist mainly to alert drivers, Stairs said. "They are geared toward pedestrians, to tell them where they should be crossing," he said.
School officials told the city that they would like to see more parking restrictions on Lee Boulevard by Carmichael Middle School, which is next to Richland High. Cars currently are allowed to park on Lee, which means buses stop in the middle of the street to pick up students after school, Panther said. The city will review parking rules there.
A funeral service for Sierra is planned at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Central United Protestant Church in Richland.
-- Jacques Von Lunen: 509-582-1402; email@example.com